(By Magnus Eze – ABUJA)
The federal government of Nigeria is targeting savings of up to $2 billion by 2018 should the country be able to reduce wheat imports by 50 per cent.
Executive Director of Lake Chad Research Institute, Gbenga Olabanji, said that the institute was working closely with wheat farmers across the country by providing them with technical support to achieve the target.
Nigeria has a national requirement of about 3.2 billion metric tonnes of wheat annually valued at $4 billion.
Olabanji told the Daily Sun that the institute has improved on its research into wheat by coming up with a strain that can survive in high temperate and marginal areas.
Funding for the project came from the African Development Bank (ADB), aiming at ensuring Africa is self-sufficient in wheat production.
According to Olabanji, 13 states are currently cultivating the product in the country and with more states to join soon.
The 13 states include Kano, Kebbi Jigawa, Bauchi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, Katsina, Yobe, Gombe, Kaduna and Plateau.
The institute’s target this year is to cultivate 300 000 hectares of wheat, which the various states have achieved with an average yield of 4 tons per hectare.
“With additional states coming on stream in wheat farming, we could produce 1.2 million metric tons, which means gradual cutting down of the national requirement of 3.2 million metric tons annually,” Olabanji said.
Millers assert that Nigerian wheat is as good as imported varieties, if not better, due to its reported higher protein content.
The federal government had proposed allocating of N2.1 billion for the promotion and development of the wheat value chain in line with achieving a 50 per cent reduction by 2018.